From “Stories from Potomac County,” available here.april-sage-illustration_trailer

Collis slept the rest of that night in his truck at the dark end of a 7-11 parking lot. He was an hour and a half late for work. Neither the pigs nor his boss noticed that he’d slept in his clothes.

After a second night of sleeping in his truck, this time in the employee lot for the county court house, Collis decided that it was time for a showdown. After all, he reasoned, he never would have moved out of his sister’s place if he’d known Rena was going to just throw him out after a couple weeks. The No Smoking rule and paying rent were completely forgotten.

Showing up unbathed and in the same clothes for a third day caused Larry to comment that Collis was getting a little rancid. The hogs didn’t actually say anything but even they seemed to maintain a respectful distance. One of the truck drivers said something about his maybe having fallen in the slurry pit.

At the end of his half day, Collis hosed off his clothes and himself, bringing his stink down to within bearable limits. He went to the pool hall and shot rotation against himself until 6 p.m. A good face, hands, and arm scrub in the pool hall restroom plus a cleanish but wrinkled shirt gave him the confidence he needed to go into Sharkey’s Grinder.

Sharkey’s Grinder, despite the name, did not sell sub sandwiches, gyros, or grinders. The name was left over from a two-year period when the state inadvertently allowed topless dancing in public bars and restaurants, an oversight that was corrected during the General Assembly’s next bi-annual session. But for two years it was the Wild West for topless bars all over Virginia.

Dr. Marion Eastham and a local loan shark opened the first topless joint in the region. In a rare stab at humor, they called it Sharkey’s for the loan shark and Grinder for the pole, table, and lap dances. The dancers went when the law changed, but having invested in a flamboyant neon sign, the name stayed.

Read more in “Stories from Potomac County,” available here.


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